Customers came first for Janet

The Gazette photographed Janet and husband Geoff Pursell outside the Lazy Frog Gift Shop when they sold the business after 27 years.

LIPSTICK, a welcoming smile and a friendly greeting for customers were the secrets to the late Janet Pursell’s retail success.
Janet was the founder of Pakenham’s beloved Lazy Frog gift shop.
She and her loyal band of “girls” ran the store in Pakenham’s Main Street for 27 years.
At her funeral on Thursday 12 May, former staff member Cheryl Anstis paid tribute to her boss and friend.
“Twenty-five years ago l got the best job ever! Little did l know the impact you would have on my life from that moment on. I loved working at Lazy Frog. You taught me how to treat the customers, dress the shelves and wrap a present beautifully. I also learnt that pretty much anything could be fixed with a hot glue gun or gold spray paint. It didn’t feel like work because working with you always consisted of long chats, many cups of tea and many more laughs.“
Janet was born Lysterfield the only daughter and eldest of four children of the late Rod and Hazel Templeton. She grew up at Nar Nar Goon.
After leaving St Margaret’s she went to business college, learning secretarial skills. She worked for a surgeon, Mr Macarthur, for approximately 10 years. He was a great boss and friend to her, who taught her well and she excelled.
Janet went on to work as a relief medical secretary stepping into anyone’s job at short notice.
In 1982, iconic Pakenham business Lazy Frog gift shop opened its doors.
Janet loved her customers and sharing their life stories, which she could recount at any time.
People were welcome to take home and try before they bought. Her customer service skills, learnt from Mr Macarthur, were second to none and well known. For instance tired customers would soon find a lift home had been arranged.
Janet’s first job each morning was to sweep in front of the shop. She would often end up 100-200 yards further down the street, chatting with passers-by and sweeping as she went.
To Janet, the monetary side of business was secondary to how she treated her customers and the girls. As long as everyone was happy and felt comfortable, the cash register would ring. She loved talking to all of the other traders, at the Gazette office, Mitre 10 and the vets.
Janet treated all reps with respect and in turn they valued purchasing decisions she made for her customers.
At the shop it wasn’t the boss and staff, it was the girls and Janet. Janet loved all the girls and enjoyed teaching, guiding and encouraging them. As long as they had clean clothes, clean nails, lippy and a smile on their face, they were rewarded with a job and a life-long friendship.
Apart from the business, her other passions were husband Geoff and her garden.
“At one stage in our house in Pakenham there was Janet, a female dog, 2 female cats, a female donkey … and me!“ recalled Geoff.
“This was when we were fruit growers. We then went to live at Woodleigh on a farm. We had a garden, cows and calves, and dogs … we had a nice time down there and she made this feel homely as well.“
Janet and Geoff met through the Pakenham Young Farmers organisation.
They were married for 46 years.
“We have had a wonderful marriage and partnership. We were very fortunate to do the things we have. I may have been a little spoilt, bearing in mind the words ‘Yes Dear!’,” said Geoff at her funeral.
“Janet’s bravery was amazing – she bore no blame – she carried no self pity – her only concern was how l would cope! She was a beautiful, caring lady and my wife.“
Janet also loved to travel, visting friends in Ireland and catching up with the family of a former Rotary exchange student in Europe.
She and Geoff also enjoyed camping and fishing in many parts of Australia.
Janet was also involved in Young Farmers, Inner Wheel, Rotary, the Pakenham Show Society, Red Cross patient transport, Club 88, the fishing club and Drouin Anglican Church.
She died suddenly after a short illness aged 67.